China is the world’s most populous country, and the NBA has made very public efforts to woo that country. Including the Rockets and Nets going to play a couple preseason games this October.
India is the second most populous country on the planet, but the NBA has largely ignored them.
Until now. The league announced Wednesday that Dwight Howard is going to do a goodwill or India, including working with that country’s national team in advance of the Asia Games this summer.
He also will conduct coaching and player clinics for Mahindra NBA Challenge participants, the NBA’s first community league in India. There is an NBA Fan Jam there as well.
Apparently, basketball is a sport a lot of people in India play in their youth but don’t really follow as they get older. Sort of how much of America treats soccer. It doesn’t seem to get the blood going in India. Cricket does, because who doesn’t love a good five-day test? Field hockey, badminton and of course soccer are popular. But basketball has a long way to go.
Sending Dwight Howard there is the first step. But this is going to be a longer, harder struggle than it has been in China. There are no players from India in the NBA (it’s doubtful there are any ready for major Division I college ball). It is going to take many years of sending players, hosting clinics, finding ways to put the game at its highest levels in front of people.
Sending Howard is a good start.
The NBA has been working to make inroads in India — it’s nation far more fixated on Cricket, field hockey, and soccer, but it has a lot of youth playing basketball at schools, and it has the second largest population of any country in the world (nearly 1.4 billion people).
The NBA sees another big potential overseas market, one the league wants to cultivate. They have done that with an NBA Academy and Basketball Without Borders has been multiple times, including this past June.
But if the NBA really wants to grow the game in India, they need to bring the product there. That could happen during the 2019 preseason, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said at the Jr NBA World Championships, via the HindustanTimes.
“We are potentially looking to play a game in Mumbai, may be next year. It would be a pre-season game,” Silver told PTI on the sidelines of the Jr NBA World Championships.
“If we do a pre-season game, we can build time and our players and their families can spend time, learn about the country’s culture,” he said… We are very focused on the Indian market.”
The NBA has played preseason games all over the world, including this season in China (plus the league has regular-season games in London and Mexico City).
It’s easy to envision the league sending the Sacramento Kings — which is owned by Vivek Ranadive, who was born in Mumbai — and another team to India for an exhibition game. Don’t be surprised if that happens in the next couple of years.
Shabazz Muhammad was buried on Tom Thibodeau’s bench last season in Minnesota and wanted out so he could get on the court — and he got his wish. Sort of. He was waived by the Timberwolves and a few days later signed with the Bucks. The problem was he only played 117 minutes the rest of the season in Milwaukee, mostly taking on the role of an unrepentant gunner in the chances he did get on the court.
It worked well enough that the Bucks are bringing Muhammad back for training camp, where he will try to grab the last roster spot.
The Bucks have 14 guaranteed contracts, plus the non-guaranteed deal of Tyler Zeller (and with Brook Lopez, John Henson, and Thon Maker on the roster it’s hard to imagine Zeller getting a lot of run). It is possible someone can beat Zeller out at a position of more need, such as on the wing (where Muhammad plays).
But is Muhammad the guy who can make this squad?
The Bucks hired Mike Budenholzer as coach this summer, and what does he want in players? Guys who can shoot the three, are unselfish, and can defend. Muhammad is a career 31 percent shooter from three who wants to attack off the dribble — last season 72 percent of his shot attempts came within 10 feet of the rim. He’s not a passer — a career 5.5 assist rate — and he’s not much of a defender.
That said, he’s got an invite to camp and is going to get his chance.
The Lakers asked Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma to back off on their social media trolling battle.
However, they made an exception for this new Wish.com app ad (Wish is the Lakers’ jersey ad sponsor).
Well played guys.
For three seasons, Briante Weber has bounced around the fringes of the NBA. The defensive-minded point guard has played in short stints (often 10-day contracts) for the Grizzlies, Heat, Warriors, Hornets, and last season he got in 13 games for the Rockets (plus five in Memphis). He’s spent most of his career in the G-League, working for his chance to get in the door.
Miami is bringing him into training camp, reports Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.
This is apparently camp invite.
There is roster space in Miami if Webber blows them away. Miami has 12 fully guaranteed roster spots and, with Webber, two partially-guaranteed deals (Malik Newman, who was undrafted out of Kansas, is the other).
The problem for Webber is Miami is deep at the point guard spot: Goran Dragic will start, and if Tyler Johnson is healthy (as expected) he will get a lot of minutes behind him, and then there is Newman. The Heat also have in the guard rotation Dion Waiters, Wayne Ellington, Rodney McGruder, and possibly Dwyane Wade if he returns (all of those guys are more two guards).
That’s a lot of guys for Webber to beat out and find a spot. On the other hand, his defensive style is something different from what the Heat have on the roster.
Webber is a longshot, but he’s at least going to camp.